Recent poaching activities in Madagascar have drawn worldwide attention to the already grave plight of Ploughshare Tortoises, which is now at a breaking point. Discussions are currently underway to devise extreme solutions for this extreme situation. One of several plans is to place identification marks on the shells of all remaining Ploughshare tortoises around the world, both in the wild and in captivity as a measure against theft and poaching.
Fortunately, the Turtle Conservancy recently pioneered a novel technique to tattoo the shells of tortoises. We first implemented our technique on reintroduced Burmese Star Tortoises in Myanmar to great success -- two smugglers were recently caught and prosecuted in Thailand because of our tattoos. For the past 4 years we have been working with our partner, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, to mark the shells of larger Ploughshare Tortoises by engraving their shells with a Dremel tool, but this could not be done on younger tortoises with thin shells. To solve this size problem, we provided Durrell with the equipment and training they needed to begin tattooing on these smaller tortoises.
As poachers become emboldened and the demand for these animals increases around the world, this tactic is proving to be more important than ever to deter poachers, decrease their market value, and serve as proof that smuggled animals were stolen from the people of Madagascar.
We ask all of our readers to please contact us if they are aware of any Ploughshare Tortoises being advertised for sale anywhere in the world or on the Internet. If you see them in a market - send us a photo. If you see them online - send us the link. We also ask you to support our efforts to stop all trade that threatens species; please visit our donation page.